This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
Gypsum possesses only a moderate degree of strength even after complete hardening, and pieces are very liable to be broken off. Various methods have been tried, with a view to removing this defect and increasing the hardness of gypsum. Of these methods, that of Wachsmuth, for hardening articles made of gypsum and rendering them weather-proof, deserves special notice. All methods of hardening articles made of gypsum have this in common: the gypsum is first deprived of its moisture, and then immersed in a solution of certain salts, such as alum, green vitriol, etc. Articles treated by the methods hitherto in vogue certainly acquire considerable hardness, but are no more capable of resistance to the effects of water than crude gypsum. The object of Wachsmuth's process is not merely to harden the gypsum, but to transform it on the surface into insoluble combinations. The process is as follows: The article is first put into the required shape by mechanical means, and then deprived of its moisture by heating to 212° to 302° F. It is then plunged into a heated solution of barium hydrate, in which it is allowed to remain for a longer or shorter time, according to its strength. When this part of the process is. complete, the article is smoothed by grinding, etc., and then placed in a solution of about 10 per cent of oxalic acid in water. In a few hours it is taken out, dried, and polished. It then possesses a hardness surpassing that of marble, and is impervious to the action of water. Nor does the polish sustain any injury from contact with water, whereas gypsum articles hardened by the usual methods lose their polish after a few minutes' immersion in water. Articles treated by the method described have the natural color of gypsum, but it is possible to add a color to the gypsum during the hardening process. This is done by plunging the gypsum, after it has been deprived of its moisture, and before the treatment with the barium solution, into a solution of a colored metallic sulphate, such as iron, copper, or chrome sulphate, or into a solution of some coloring matter. Pigments soluble in the barium or oxalic-acid solutions may also be added to the latter.
Gypsum may be hardened and rendered insoluble by ammonium borate as follows: Dissolve boric acid in hot water and add sufficient ammonia water to the solution that the borate at first separated is redissolved. The gypsum to be cast is stirred in with this liquid, and the mass treated in the ordinary way. Articles already cast are simply washed with the liquid, which is quickly absorbed. The articles withstand the weather as well as though they were of stone.
GYPSUM FLOWERS: , See Flowers.